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The following text is an ACTION ALERT letter from Ken Takeuchi, a member of NY base organization GAPIMNY.
I want you all to pass it on.
Hello friends and family,
I've translated the open letter from Otsuji Kanako, the first openly lesbian politician ever in Japan. My apologies for a hasty translation, but the urgency and importance of taking immediate action is very much apparent I hope.
We cannot let this ordinance pass. No matter how advanced country like Japan has become, its records in LGBT rights have been non-existent. Being an ex-pat Japanese activist in NY, I cannot sit idly while this ordinance may set precedence in Japanese legal history. IF it comes to pass, it will bring dire consequences in the future LGBT rights in Japan.
PLEASE RE-POST, AND RESEND TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS YOU ARE PART OF NOW!!!
I feel that email petitions in Japanese would be most effective, but send them in English anyway if there's not enough time or resources to translate. We only have a week left, I desperately implore you to join in this petition.
You can visit following websites to learn more;
Otsuji Kanako's website;
The proposed changes in the ordinance by Miyakonojo City
English (There don't have the translated page, but you can get a sense of the city here)
My appreciation goes beyond description for your help in this matter. Please feel free to send me questions, and I will do as much as I can to follow up.
Best regards and with utmost respect,
Steering Committee member at large, Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of NY (GAPIMNY)
Member, Japanese Speaking LesBiGays in NY (JSLNY)
By Otsuji Kanako
Assembly Member of Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Party: Independent (first elected in 2003)
Member of "Rainbow and Greens (Japan)"
Book: Coming Out (2005, Kodansya, Japanese only)
The first openly homosexual politician in Japan
I am sending a letter of protest and petition to city counsel members of Miyakonojo City in Miyazaki Prefecture. Please join my petition by sending emails in protest.
Petition emails should be sent to: email@example.com
The deadline is September 12th (11th in the U.S.) - Please take action now, since the committee meeting begins on the 15th.
In addition, individuals should send a message to the city assembly. It is important to send in numbers.
For the mayor of Miyakonojo City, Nagamine Makoto
Tel: +81 986-23-2111, Fax +81 986-25-7973
For office of Miyakonojo city assembly
TEL +81 986-23-7869, Fax +81 986-25-7879
===========An open letter of protest and petition===========
For the members of Miyakonojo City assembly,
An open letter of protest and petition against the deletion of "gender and sexual orientation" from the proposed ordinance, "Miyakonojo City Equal Rights Measure in Creating Better Society"
I sincerely respect your diligence in all of your endeavors. Currently the city assembly's new ordinance, "Miyakonojo City Equal Rights Measure in Creating Better Society" is being presented. In this new proposal, the wording of (applying to) "all people including gender and sexual orientation" which was originally present prior to consolidation of Miyakonojo City, was deleted. And instead, revised to be simply, "all people". What was the reason for deleting "gender and sexual orientation" from the original proposal? While many people are being discriminated based on "gender and sexual orientation" in current Japanese society, such act of deletion ignores the reality of discrimination, and may be taken as an approval of such activities. I simply cannot sit by and watch it pass.
In addition, I have been informed that the names of council members who created the ordinance have not been released. Furthermore no hearing was held by the city's community groups or party involved. Without the lack of opinions from them, the ordinance does not reflect the needs of Miyakonojo community.
The policy introduced in January 2005, "Miyazaki Prefecture Human Rights Education-Policies for Basic Development" clearly states the following fact. In chapter 4, section 2 titled, "Promoting the Policies of Various Fields" includes the topic, "Problems faced by minorities of gender and sexual orientation". It recognizes the existence of prejudice and discrimination, and the importance of accepting sexual and gender diversity. The policy encourages the city residents to take initiatives to put more effort in this matter. The current ordinance on the table completely contradicts Miyazaki prefecture's policy.
Please reconsider this proposal one last time. I implore you to reinstate the wording, "gender and sexual orientation".
Petition organizer, Osaka Prefecture Assembly Member
Mainichi Daily News May 6, 2006
Dispatches from the gender battlefield
In 2003, Miyakonojo City in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu, became the first municipality to recognize marriage between individuals of the same sex (or people of bisexual orientation). Citizens, businesses and educators were also obliged to end discriminatory treatment based on "sexual preferences." But after the defeat of Tatsuya Iwahashi in the city's mayoral election the following year, people began raising their voices in opposition. The controversy became moot when, in 2006, Miyakonojo merged with four surrounding towns and the law was dropped from the books.
Kuwana City in Mie Prefecture, meanwhile, might be home to the most extreme ordinance of all. Passed by the city assembly in 2002, it obliged businesses "at the earliest opportunity" to adopt a gender balance of employees; pay them equal wages; maintain an equal ratio of male-to-female managers; and apply the principle of "gender free" to all aspects of education and learning in the city's schools. It also prohibited "sexist" language. Like Miyakonojo, it was repealed earlier this year due to a merger between several municipalities.
The above instances, appearing in a series of articles in Sapio (5/10) under the headline "Gender free on the rampage," underscores a seldom-reported aspect of contemporary Japan: efforts by feminists and others to re-orient people's perceptions toward gender equality, and the backlash it generates among those who say it is impractical, a horrendous waste of money -- 10 trillion yen by one reckoning -- and an absurd affront to millennia of Japanese tradition.
Kenzo Yoneda, 58, a former cabinet vice-minister and currently professor at Teikyo Heisei University, denounces the "Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society," which was passed by the National Diet in 1999, during the tenure of the late prime minister Keizo Obuchi.
The looming "White Cultural Revolution" -- a euphemism for feminist-inspired rules and regulations -- is a threat to Japan's established order, warns Yoneda. Indeed, the social anarchy the new law is threatening to unleash, he suggests, evokes memories of post-revolutionary Russia under the Bolsheviks; Cambodia under Pol Pot's homicidal Khmer Rouge; or perhaps China, when the Red Guards ran rampant during its "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution."
Yoneda raises this example: The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare had arranged, via an affiliated organization, to distribute a sex education pamphlet, "The Love & Body Book," to middle schools around the country.
The book contained the following passage: "To give birth or not give birth. To make a baby or not make one... the decision is entirely mine."
This "freedom to give birth," mutters Yoneda, "reflects blind compliance with the tenets of feminism, in accordance with the abovementioned Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society."
Yoneda issued an instruction to an official for the books to be withdrawn from the schools, but his order was initially refused. He finally got his way by going over the official's head to vice-minister Kamoshita of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
Citing another example, Yoneda writes that Chiba Prefecture, in an awkward attempt to comply with the Basic Law, passed an ordinance that obliges companies to make sure a requisite ratio of males to females are hired. But for construction firms in the prefecture, whose work forces are overwhelmingly male, such a law is impractical. Their solution was simple: they placed "phantom women" on the employee rolls.
Wacky examples of the law's application are everywhere, even in unisex posters at rail stations warning against groping on trains. "It's strange to always portray women as victims of gropers," was its stated rationale.
Well, counters Yoneda, it's certainly possible that a gent might be on the receiving end of a friendly fondle from a fellow commuter. But only in the rarest of cases. Applying the gender equality law in such an extreme case, he argues, is "totally detached from reality."
"This is a horrible law," Yoneda tells Sapio. "Unless it is repealed outright, or revised, its continued existence portends the imminent demise of Japan as a nation."
(By Masuo Kamiyama, People's Pick contributor)
May 6, 2006
宮崎・都城市「性的指向」条例が改悪の危機 ～ 尾辻かな子活動日記ブログ